Riding as individuals, they tackled the famous Hattah Desert Race for the first time on Sunday, battling alongside 400 world class riders and both of the intrepid Kiwis eventually ended in the top quarter of the field and also finished runners-up in their respective classes.
The Hattah Desert, north-west of Melbourne, was particularly inhospitable this season, with unusually dry weather leading up to the race, and this meant the terrain was brutal in the extreme, with extremely deep hollows in the sand, but the two Kiwi riders were both up to the challenge.
Te Awamutu beef farmer Kevin, aged 51, qualified 66th during the earlier prologue event, that race used to determine starting positions for the main event proper, while 16-year-old Rachael qualified 113th.
Supported by the Melbourne-based Simford Husqvarna Racing Team and riding a Husqvarna FX450 fitted with an oversize 12-litre fuel tank, Kevin Archer eventually finished 62nd overall in the gruelling four-hour senior race near Mildura, Victoria.
This was good enough to classify him as runner-up in the veterans’ (over-45 years) class, behind fellow Husqvarna rider Brandon Kienhuis, who was also riding for the Simford Racing Team. The just-turned 45-year-old Kienhuis, actually one of the youngest veterans in the class, crossed the finish line 45th overall.
Rachael, riding a Husqvarna FC250, also fitted with a 12-litre fuel tank, was entered in the two-hour race-within-the-race for the women, finishing runner-up to Australian women’s motocross champion Meghan Rutledge.
However, instead of ending her day there, the year 12 pupil from St Peter’s in Cambridge decided to battle on regardless and complete the entire four-hour senior race.
Rachael eventually finished 70th overall, just eight places behind her dad.
“It was a pretty tough race and I’m feeling pretty sore now,” said Rachael afterwards.
“My arms, my legs, my back … everything hurts. The sand was pretty deep in places. But we’re both really keen to go back and have another crack at it next year.”
Australian Husqvarna rider Daniel Sanders won the senior race overall, finishing more than a minute ahead of fellow Aussie Josh Green, with a third Australian, Lyndon Snodgrass, third overall, three minutes further back.
Meanwhile, another Kiwi, Darfield’s 2018 national 11-12 years’ 85cc motocross champion Tyler Wiremu, finished 25th overall in the 85cc section of the junior race.
© Words and main photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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